Louisiana Fisheries
Current NewsAbout UsBiological InfoManagement InfoHabitat Info
Louisiana Fisherman Professionalism ProgramAquaculture InfoLegal & Socio-Economic Issues
Fisheries & PeopleResources & PublicationsFisheries FAQsSearch
LSU AgCenter Louisiana Sea Grant Louisiana Fisheries Louisiana Fisheries

Home > Resources & Publications > Newsletters & Magazines > Dockside > 2008 > 03-08

Resources & Publications:  Dockside

The story of the Vietnamese shrimping industry is personal to me because it is the story of my family. My father has been a shrimper all of my life and now my husband is a part of that industry, as well. My parents were one of the many "boat" people who fled Vietnam during the war. A majority of these people were fishermen by trade. These Vietnamese fishermen had very little education and so when they came to Louisiana their means of survival was to resort to what they knew best, which was fishing. Before 1984 these fishermen worked with Americans as deckhands. At the time, they were inexperienced on how the shrimping industry operated, so with the help of their employers they learned a new method of survival.

After 1984, with the help of family and friends, many Vietnamese-Americans embracing the American dream started their own businesses and became their own bosses. They started their fleets with small 70-foot boats with two nets which carried boards on them (typically ice boats). Then in 1987, they expanded to larger boats, with more horsepower, which had four nets carrying double doors. And the trend continued through 1997 as vessels became powerful enough to trawl the treacherous waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Shrimping was an industry that helped many fishermen support their families. These were ideal times for these young entrepreneurs. With fuel prices being at an average of 75-cents and shrimp prices of 16/20 white tails selling for $6.80 to $7 per pound, the future of the shrimping industry looked bright. From 2000 to 2001, the big boom of IQF boats was occurring.

However, Sept. 11 was not only felt in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, its impact resonated along the Atchafalaya into the Gulf of Mexico. Shipbuilding came to a halt.

After being hard hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the high cost of fuel and the drop of prices at the docks, many fishermen began to fall into bankruptcy. Many could not meet their large monthly mortgages and so lost their boats and livelihood, and 2002 began the winter of the Vietnamese shrimping industry’s discontent.

The next article will examine the state of the shrimping industry today. Until then I wish you well.

Back to Top

Louisiana Fisheries LSU AgCenter Louisiana Sea Grant